Although, Hunting is outlawed inside of Bryce Canyon National Park, outside of the park boundaries you can find an abundance of western wildlife living on the Paunsaugunt Plateau unit. This area is located in Kane and Garfield County, Utah and is one of the best western big game units in the United State for many species. This area is home to; Mule Deer, Rocky Mountain Elk, Antelope, Black Bear, Cougar, as well as many game birds including Pheasant, chucker, pine hen and many more. To view a great hunting map of Paunsaugunt Plateau unit please visit: http://wildlife.utah.gov/maps/public/details_boundary.php?boundary_id=163
This Big Game hunting unit is most commonly known for its Trophy Mule Deer and its higher quality of the species. The most common time you can view these deer is the first hour of each day and the last hour of light. This is when these animals typically look for food and water, before going for thick cover. Looking near water sources is always a great idea when out scouting for Mule Deer and most Big Game animals during the spring, summer and fall months. Utah’s Division of Wildlife Resources claims that there is around 35 Buck to 100 Does, so there is a great ratio of Bucks as compared to most regions.
Hunting on the Paunsaugunt Plateau can be challenging for many reason including the 7,000-9,000 feet (2,100-2,800 m) elevation change. There is a thick Pine, Juniper, and Cedar tree cover that blankets most of the entire unit. With the thickness of cover and the abundance of water sources these animals are in a great survival habitat. There is a couple main water sources that are always a great start for view these animals including Tropic reservoir (on top of the Plateau) and The Sevier River which runs the entire length of the Paunsaugunt unit. This hunting unit because of it elevation averages about 200 inches (5,100 mm) of snowfall per year and has at least 200 days in which the temperatures drop below freezing.
What will make your big game hunting or viewing a better experience? First, having the correct equipment, a good pair of 10X40 binoculars with you or spotting scope will help you to not only find these animals, but it will give you a much close look at them. Being pre-paired for all kinds of weather, including, rain, snow, and sunshine will make the game of patients much more comfortable. Do not make it harder than it needs to be, look for animals around water and food sources. There are creeks spread all through the Plateau that run year round. These creeks can be found in almost every Canyon and include such names as; Blue Fly Creek, Blubber Creek, Kanab and North fork of Kanab creek. A vehicle with 4-wheel drive will greatly increase your odds viewing of animals by being able to cover a lot of ground. Most of the dirt roads on the Paunsaugunt are maintained regularly but do to high traffic and weather the roads can get muddy or snow covered in just a few minutes. Another options is to set up trail cameras. Many hunters and guide service are now relying on Trail Cameras to figure out what animals are in the area and get their eating and drinking patterns figured out. These cameras are generally hung on trees near heavily trafficked water and food sources as well as game trails.
To research out how you can acquire a hunting tags for the abundance of Big game and bird specifies that calls the Bryce Canyon area home please visit Utah’s DNR website: http://wildlife.utah.gov
If you are lucky enough to acquire a Big Game permit through the Utah Big Game draw or landowner tag or action, looking into a guide service is not a bad idea. This is a very tough unit to learn but the rewards of it can make memories for a lifetime!